An Overview of Generic Allergy Medicines

A pharmacist helps a mature customer learn how to take her prescription medication.

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As the cost of healthcare continues to rise, my patients frequently ask me about generic allergy medicines. Fortunately, there are a number of allergy medicines that have recently become available in generic form—which typically translates into a lower cost.

When a medication loses its patent, other companies are free to market the medication in a generic form. This is different than a medication being approved by the Food and Drug Administration for over-the-counter (OTC) use.

While many OTC allergy medicines are available in generic versions, including Zyrtec and Claritin, others are still only available in brand name form (such as Allegra).


The only newer generation prescription antihistamine that is currently available in generic form is levocetirizine (brand name Xyzal). Generic levocetirizine is priced on for $89.99 for a 1-month supply, compared to brand name Xyzal, which is $99.59 for a 1-month supply. Using the generic medication results in a nearly 10% savings in cost.

Allergy Nasal Sprays

As of the date of the writing of this article, there are three generic allergy nasal sprays available, all by prescription only. These include fluticasone propionate (brand name Flonase), flunisolide (brand name Nasarel), and azelastine (brand name Astelin). Fluticasone and flunisolide are nasal steroid sprays, while azelastine is a nasal antihistamine spray. Nasacort AQ, another nasal steroid spray, is due to be available in generic form in June 2011.

According to, the cost of generic fluticasone is $59.99 for a 1-month supply, compared to brand name Flonase, which is $85.98 for a 1-month supply. Using the generic fluticasone results in a savings of 30% over the brand name version. The cost of flunisolide on is $45.99 for a 1-month supply; the brand name Nasarel is no longer available.

Azelastine is the only generic antihistamine nasal spray available, although still requires a prescription. According to, the cost of a 1-month supply of azelastine nasal spray is $95.99, while the cost of brand name Astelin is $119.99 for a 1-month supply. Using the generic version results in a cost savings of 20%.

Allergy Eye Drops

While there are many OTC allergy eye drops available, including Zaditor/Alaway all of these are currently in brand name version only. The only generic allergy eye drop, azelastine (brand name Optivar), is still a prescription medication. Azelastine eye drops are available on for $95.99 for a 1-month supply, while brand name Optivar costs $115.99 for a 1-month supply. Buying the generic version saves a person more than 17%.

Know that there are various ways that itchy eyes can be treated.

The bottom line that I tell my patients: If an OTC allergy medicine works well for you, it will be far cheaper than anything available by prescription, whether it’s generic or not!

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